WASHINGTON — Rep. Jerry Lewis of California became the latest Republican to announce his retirement from Congress after new boundaries drawn through redistricting promised to make the road to re-election more difficult.
Lewis, 77, is the former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He made his mark in Congress by steering hundreds of millions of federal dollars over the years to a congressional district that includes portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The Justice Department investigated whether Lewis improperly steered federal projects to clients of friends and a former colleague, but it closed its investigation in 2010 without taking any further action. Lewis had hoped the DOJ's decision would help him retain the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee when Republicans retained control of the House, but he lost that bid last year.
First elected to Congress in 1978, Lewis has served in Congress longer than any Republican in California history.
"After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life," Lewis said in a press release.
Lewis served in the California Assembly prior to winning a seat in Congress.
While Lewis boasted of cutting wasteful spending, he was never shy about sending federal dollars to his home district for local hospitals, schools and an array of defense initiatives. In fiscal year 2010 alone, he secured nearly $100 million for his district and consistently ranked as one of the country's leading earmark earners.
Earlier in the week, GOP lawmakers Elton Gallegly and Wally Herger announced that they would be retiring when their terms ended this year. In all, 28 members of the House have announced their retirement, including 17 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Many are seeking other elected offices.